Students fish for solutions to clean up Hong Kong waters

Liz Gooch

Take a sampan ride around Aberdeen typhoon shelter and it's not long before you pass an assortment of floating debris including plastic bags, foam boxes, shampoo bottles and dead fish.

This is what Bruce MacNamara, a history and geography teacher at the Canadian International School, saw when he used to travel to work each morning on the Lamma ferry.

To highlight the problem, he set his students a project that would not only make them more environmentally aware but would also generate practical solutions and pressure government departments to improve Hong Kong's waters.

The Grade 10 students interviewed fishermen and those living on the water at various typhoon shelters around Hong Kong to discover how they disposed of rubbish.

They learned that rubbish collection boats would come past every day but fishermen would have to call out if they wanted plastic bags for rubbish.

'If they're not there when the boats come, they can't get rubbish bags,' said John Tsuen Yin-yu, 14. If they did not have bags, rubbish would end up in the water.


Kimberly Kam Yee-kwan, 15, said the students' solution was to have rubbish barges moored near typhoon shelters where fishermen could dump their waste.

'They should change the collection system,' she said. 'Hong Kong's waters affect everybody.'

The students also suggested increasing fines for dumping rubbish and educating fishermen.

After sending their suggestions to four government agencies, the students received three replies.


The Sustainable Development Council referred them to the Environmental Protection Department to co-ordinate further action. The Marine Department said it would initiate a focus study on the issue.

Mr MacNamara hopes the students will get a chance to meet with government officials to discuss the issue further. He said it was crucial young people played a role in protecting their environment.


Canadian International is one of nine schools taking part in the International Coastal Cleanup, organised by Civic Exchange, which runs for five weeks from September 16.